Lorrie Moore to deliver keynote at 2020 John Updike Conference

Writer Lorrie Moore will travel to Shillington-Reading to deliver the keynote talk at the 6th Biennial John Updike Society Conference at Alvernia University. The conference will take place the first week in October 2020, which coincides with the October 3 grand opening and dedication of The John Updike Childhood Home.

Like Updike, Moore received the prestigious Rea Award for the Short Story, given annually to a living American writer who has made significant contributions to the genre. And like Updike, Moore won the O. Henry Award for a short story that was first published in The New Yorker. Updike and Moore were both admirers of each other’s work, and both authors worked in multiple genres—novels, short stories, non-fiction, children’s books, essays, and criticism.

“Her review of The Early Stories is one of my favorite takes on Updike,” JUS board member Matthew Shipe said. That review was reprinted in Moore’s collection of essays and reviews, See What Can Be Done (Knopf, 2018). Over the years Moore has published five collections of short stories (Self-Help, 1985; Like Life, 1990; Birds of America, 1998; The Collected Stories, 2008; and Bark, 2014) as well as three novels (Anagrams, 1986; Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?, 1994; and A Gate at the Stairs, 2009); a children’s book (The Forgotten Helper, 1987), and that aforementioned collection of essays.

Birds of America won The Irish Times International Fiction Prize and brought her wide acclaim, with Alison Lurie remarking that Moore is “the nearest thing we have to Checkhov.” If that sounds heady, readers who want to explore the finer points of Moore’s work need look no further than Understanding Lorrie Moore, published in the respected major author series by the University of South Carolina Press and written by Alison Kelly, who notes, “Moore’s adroit pen portraits of places and people reflect her overarching artistic purpose, which she has described as ‘trying to register the way we, here in America, live.’ . . . Moore anatomizes American society as revealingly in her way as do writers such as John Updike or Tom Wolfe . . . .”

Updike had included Moore’s New Yorker story “You’re Ugly, Too” in The Best American Short Stories of the Century, which he edited. Moore is currently the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

More information about the conference and conference registration will be forthcoming.

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